2019-08-08 OSR as a scene is dead

I think Melan is right: the OSR has desintegrated.

The old-school community split this year, and its surviving pieces have gone their separate ways. It is gone. There has been surprisingly little talk about it, and most still speak in terms of a general scene, but in my eyes, the divorce has clearly taken place. The fault lines had been present for a few years, and the conflicts were visible for all to see. Google+’s shuttering by its corporate overlords provided a good opportunity for things to come apart, but it has also obscured the OSR’s disintegration. […] There was undoubtedly something there for a few years, and now there isn’t.

We had lots of activity in the forums (and they are still around: Dragonsfoot, OD&D Discussion, Knights & Knaves, and so on), then we had the blogs (and they are still around: Old School RPG Planet), then we had Google+, and now it’s all over the place and nowhere.

I’m not active on /r/osr, nor MeWe. Is that where the various groups still interact? Lasagna Social is super small. The Old School on Mastodon is tiny.

I just noticed the following on the unofficial Reddit guide: /r/osr has 6k subscribers but /r/rpg has 680k and even something like a subreddit for a YouTube channel has more: /r/mattcolville has 41k subs.



The biggest community is on discord, several thousand people with lots of regulars. A lot of the OSR blog authors chat there, bounce ideas off each other, work on community projects, etc. Check Chris McDowall’s Bastionland for an invite.

diregrizzlybear 2019-08-08 12:53 UTC

Catholocism didn’t end with the Protestant Reformation, I don’t know why the OSR would end because of the Sworddream Reformation, it’ll just be smaller. Declaring the OSR dead feels like folks have lost confidence in Sworddream and want to ’blow up’ the OSR in frustration.

– ruprecht 2019-08-08 13:00 UTC

@ruprecht, Wherever Sworddream is happening, I’m not seeing it. Do you have a link? I remember seeing the announcement and then nothing else.

I think that the word “dead” is as appropriate as it is to use for any thing that’s out of fashion. Yes, it’s still around, but it’s diminished. I mean, Old School RPG Planet has plenty of blogs listed, but it no longer feels like a community. I don’t see people commenting on each other’s blogs as much – not as much as they did in 2008-2012, and not as much as people used to comment on Google+.

@diregrizzlybear, thanks for the info. I tried Discord around 2017, I think. I was on many different servers but the chat format didn’t really work for me, even though I’m on IRC a lot. It feels like a different niche. I don’t really have the need to chat in real time about role-playing games.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-08 14:41 UTC

I disagree. For me, it is and always has been about the blogs. G+, Discord, Mewe, etc etc are all basically valueless, as they don’t create the kind of permanent(ish) record the blogs.

The quality has tailed off a bit across the board, but I think that’s inevitable. The low-hanging fruit has been plucked, early giants have retired, etc. But I think there’s still value in the appellation OSR, and in the work the remnants are doing.

The OSR has always been niche, and it still is. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean it’s gone.

Charles 2019-08-08 14:50 UTC

“Yes, it’s still around, but it’s diminished. I mean, Old School RPG Planet has plenty of blogs listed, but it no longer feels like a community. I don’t see people commenting on each other’s blogs as much – not as much as they did in 2008-2012, and not as much as people used to comment on Google+.”

Because it all moved to discord instead of being broken up across dozens of blogs. At this point, blogging is where people put more finished products, after it has been discussed, critiqued, brainstormed, and editted in semi-realtime. It isn’t that the community has disappeared from the OSR but that the blogs serve a different purpose.

It’s also where games are organized, whether on private discords or via hangouts or roll20.

diregrizzlybear 2019-08-08 15:18 UTC

@diregrizzlybear, I see. Thanks!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-08 16:08 UTC

To be clear I think Sworddream was stillborn. The concept was basically OSR without yucky people and that’s not really much of an idea. I don’t know if it’s a third wave of the OSR or something new altogether but the Black Hack and GLOG seem to be examples of real movements and communities in a way Sworddream never managed. Then again I don’t discord so I’m probably missing something.

– ruprecht 2019-08-08 18:58 UTC

Yeah, at one point I made the effort of contacting all the GLOG blogs mentioned in that Who is the GLOGosphere post and was surprised to see how many there were – and how disconnected they were from each other, apparently. Many hadn’t realized that they had been listed and linked until I contacted them.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-08 19:10 UTC

After a few days on Discord again, I’m not too impressed. It’s fine as it is for the people on there. But it hasn’t been drawing me in, so I didn’t feel like I was observing a community in action. I’ll keep an eye on it, for sure, but it hasn’t wowed me.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-17 16:55 UTC

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